Sarwan told to get in shape
West Indies batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan has been told to get in shape by the national selectors after failing to earn a central contract for the coming year. Sarwan, pace bowler Jerome Taylor and wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin were the most notable absentees from the list of 15 players handed the retainers. “The team management, the selection committee and the West Indies Cricket Board are concerned about Mr Sarwan’s extremely indifferent attitude and sporadic approach towards fitness, particularly in recent years,” a statement released by the board said. Injuries have kept Sarwan out of Test action throughout this year. “Ramnaresh’s less than satisfactory and fluctuating fitness levels have directly contributed to multiple injuries thereby causing him to be unavailable for selection to the West Indies team,” the statement said. Chief selector Clyde Butts said that the absence of a contract did not have a direct impact on team selection. “He is a world-class batsman and our view is that had he been in better shape over the years he would have had even more runs,” Butts said.
France players urged to sing
New France coach Laurent Blanc passed the words of the French national anthem on to his players so they could sing La Marseillaise before their Euro 2012 qualifier against Belarus yesterday. Many French fans felt the players tarnished the country’s reputation when they refused to train during this year’s World Cup. Few French players usually sing the national anthem before their games and Blanc wants that to change. “It’s a quite sensitive issue here and I’ve personally prompted the players to sing La Marseillaise tomorrow,” Blanc told reporters on Thursday. “They perfectly know what I think. I’ve passed the lyrics on to them so I think they’ll be able to sing tomorrow,” he said. “Everybody is free to do what he wants but when you know La Marseillaise, you sing it.”
Cops hunt Cabanas shooter
Colombian police are searching for a Mexican fugitive wanted for the shooting in January of Paraguay soccer player Salvador Cabanas, a senior officer said on Thursday. Finding Jose Jorge “JJ” Balderas, whom a drugs lord captured in Mexico this week identified as the shooter, was a priority, Judicial Police chief Carlos Mena said. Cabanas, who had been set to go to the World Cup in South Africa with the Paraguay team in June, was shot in the head in a Mexico City bar, according to some reports during an argument over his form for local club America. The forward still has the bullet lodged in his brain and was moved from a Mexico City hospital after a month to a Buenos Aires clinic where he is now an out-patient.
Rat bite ruins Games bid
Indian shooter Sanjeev Rajput is blaming the sharp teeth of a rodent for robbing him of his shot at glory on home soil at next month’s Commonwealth Games. The 29-year-old was perceived as a medal prospect for the Oct. 3-Oct. 14 Delhi Games but lost out in the race for a place in India’s highly-competitive shooting squad following a poor performance at the June trial in Pune. “I was staying in the camp hostel in Pune where a rat bit me in the night,” Rajput said yesterday. “I did not take any chances and immediately visited the doctor. He gave me anti-rabies shots and soon I was running a high fever. I was just not at my best and shot 1155 and 1149, both of which were below-par. It brought down my averages,” the shooter said.
Rain forces delays
Rain has wiped out the three Pool B games scheduled at the women’s field hockey World Cup. The postponed matches on Thursday were: South Africa-China, England-South Korea and Spain-Argentina. England and Argentina won their first two pool matches and were hoping to win three straight before the rain and chilly weather came. Tournament officials did not immediately say when the postponed matches would be played. The final and third-place game of the World Cup is Sept. 11.
Sharks sign Niemi
The San Jose Sharks have signed free agent goaltender Antti Niemi to a one-year, US$2 million contract, the team said on Thursday. Niemi became the Chicago Blackhawks starter midway through last year’s season and went 26-7-4 in 39 games with a 2.25 goals-against average and seven shutouts. He then backstopped the Blackhawks to their first Stanley Cup since 1961 with a six-game series win against the Philadelphia Flyers. “Antti’s play last season speaks for itself,” Sharks general manager Doug Wilson told reporters. “Our goal this summer was to create the best goaltending unit we could and we feel we have successfully done that.” The 27-year-old Niemi became a restricted free agent on July 1 and took the Blackhawks to arbitration when the two sides could not reach agreement on a contract. An arbitrator awarded Niemi a US$2.75 million salary, and Chicago exercised its right to walk away from the award, making the goaltender an unrestricted free agent.
Bring your earplugs
Loved and loathed in equal measure, the drone of the vuvuzela will resonate in India for the first time at the Commonwealth Games next month. The plastic horn, which went on to become soccer’s World Cup soundtrack in South Africa this year, will be part of Delhi’s noisy celebration for the Oct. 3-14 multi-sports gathering, organizers said on Thursday. Even though the cacophony received a resounding thumbs-down in Europe, the chairman of the event’s official merchandising partner, Premier Brands, said the high decibel level should not be a problem in India. “In India we enjoy sports with lot of noise. We are not like the Europeans,” Suresh Kumar said yesterday. “The organizing committee only needs to ensure that the fans are allowed to enter the stadiums with the vuvuzelas and it is not perceived as a security issue.” Unlike the ones sold in South Africa, the vuvuzelas would be decorated in Indian colors and priced at a little less than US$4. The vuvuzelas are expected to be a hit in a country where loud celebrations are part of life and where cricket crowds are often so noisy that umpires struggle to detect edges.
Baron dies aged 56
Motorcyclist Jean-Michel Baron died on Thursday at the age of 56, after 24 years spent in a vegetative state following a crash on the Dakar Rally. Baron was 31 when he fell heavily during his second Paris-Dakar, after which he spent several months in hospital before being taken home, where he lived for 23 years “in a vegetative state,” his wife, Jocelyne, said. “Motorbikes were his life,” she said of Baron, the French 250 Inter motorcross champion in 1980 who finished 20th riding a Honda in his first Paris-Dakar in 1985.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker found himself in need of an assist to help the state fight the COVID-19 pandemic. He called on the New England Patriots. One of the team’s private airplanes on Thursday evening landed in Boston after returning from China carrying more than 1 million masks critical to healthcare providers fighting to control the spread of the coronavirus. Members of the Massachusetts National Guard met the airplane and offloaded the containers of masks onto waiting trucks for transport to warehouses for distribution. Baker secured the N95 masks from Chinese manufacturers, but had no way of getting them to the US. He
WAIT AND SEE: The estimated cost of postponement started at US$2 billion and has kept rising, but the IOC has yet to say whether it would help pay for the extra expenses Postponing the Tokyo Olympics to next year would make the event more costly for all parties, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) acknowledged on Thursday, although it offered few details on what the final bill might be. Four directors of the Olympic body held a conference call three days after Tokyo’s new dates were finalized, with the Games pushed back to July 23 to Aug. 8 next year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the new dates cleared up any uncertainty about the event’s future, there are still plenty of question marks as the committee begins to work with Tokyo organizers and the
MEDIA RUMORS? With no pay agreement secured and players’ representatives calling for more financial information ahead of talks, the sport had another week of bad press Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle could be sacked in a matter of days, media reported yesterday, as the embattled governing body struggles to deal with a financial crisis compounded by a shutdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Castle this week took a 50 percent pay cut and laid off 75 percent of Rugby Australia (RA) staff members, saying that the body would face losses of up to A$120 million (US$71.95 million) if no more rugby was played this year. With no pay agreement secured with the players and their representatives calling on RA to provide more financial information ahead of negotiations, the
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are planning to play a charity golf match next month with Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, CNBC reported on Wednesday. CNBC, which cited an unnamed person familiar with the negotiations, said that the charity match would be held at an undisclosed location without fans and is being organized by the PGA Tour and AT&T’s WarnerMedia. The negotiations are still being finalized, but the match pitting 15-time major champion Woods and Manning against five-time major winner Mickelson and Brady could be aired on live TV and is unlikely to be featured on pay-per-view, CNBC said. “Discussions